Eating Your Words – Not Your Emotions

I recently worked with a delightful group of men and had to spend long periods of time just sitting in a van with them and listening to them talk. They knew each other so they had conversations about their lives, loves and activities.

I recently worked with a delightful group of men and had to spend long periods of time just sitting in a van with them and listening to them talk. They knew each other so they had conversations about their lives, loves and activities.

And the one thing they talked about more than anything was food.


They talked about food trucks, restaurants, their neighborhood dives, what they like at each place, reservations, dinners with girlfriends. It was like sitting in a car with a talking Zagat. I learned more about restaurants in Los Angeles during that weekend than I have in a long time.

None of these men were overweight; most were young and quite active. 

But when I listened to how they talked about food, it was quite different than how people who struggle with food talk about it. Different than how I have talked about food in the past. Different than how a lot of women talk about food.

They talked about it experientially. But not emotionally. They didn’t talk about anger at bread, love of cheese, or lust for chocolate. They said things like, “Dude – that taco truck rocks,” or “Try the pizza there – it’s great.”

It made me wonder how our relationship with food tells us about the needs we make food fill.  When we use food to fill a void it is not designed to fill – loneliness, boredom, depression, frustration, intimacy – then our vocabulary makes food sound more like a lover than a source of nourishment.

The language these guys used was matter of fact – about taste, cost, setting. And clearly it gave them pleasure – but that pleasure was embedded in a larger experience. 

Perhaps a good diet plan is not just about how we eat, but how we talk. These guys taught me that we really do eat our words – and some words may be more fattening than others.

Save the lusty language for lovers instead of lasagna and see if you start eating differently.

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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